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  • Writer's picturePhillip Radcliffe

2023 J-League Levain Cup

(Japanese Translation below)

By Aiko Kita

Have you ever heard of the Levian Cup? If you like football you have. The Levian Cup is a cup competition in which clubs of the Japan Professional Football League (J-League) participate, and it started in 1992, the first year of the J-League. It is one of the three major Japanese domestic titles, along with the J1 League and the Emperor’s Cup.

This year’s Levian Cup had a twenty-team group stage, with eight teams advancing to the quarterfinals: Kashima Antlers, Nagoya Grampus, Avispa Fukuoka, FC Tokyo, Urawa Reds, Gamba Osaka, Yokohama F marinos, and Consadole Sapporo. Then, after two games in the quarterfinals in September, four teams advanced to the semifinals: Nagoya Grampus, Avispa Fukuoka, Urawa Reds, and Yokohama F Marinos.

Two semifinals were held in October. After winning the first game 1-0, Fukuoka faced Nagoya away from home. Fukuoka took the lead in the opening five minutes with a goal by Wellington and did not concede a goal the rest of the game, escaping with a 1-0 win. With a 2-0 win in the two games, Fukuoka advanced to the final for the first time. 

On the other hand, Urawa, who had lost their first game 0-1, played Yokohama FM at home. After the scoreless game, Alexander Schoretz scored a penalty kick in the 63rd minute to tie the game at 1-1. Then Schoretz scored again in the closing minutes to complete the comeback. Urawa reached the final for the first time in seven years with a combined score of 2-1 in the two matches.

The final match was played on November 4 at the National Stadium in front of 61,683 spectators, and from the start Fukuoka showed an aggressive fight.  Five minutes into the game, Hiroyuki Mae pushed home a cross from Kayuya Konno, who had been set up on the right flank, to take an early lead. Then, at the end of the first half, 45 minutes plus 4 minutes, Kazuya Konno received the ball on the left side from a corner kick and again supplied a sharp cross. This was met by Miya Taiki with his left foot to extend the lead to two points. 

In the second half, Fukuoka remained aggressive and won a penalty kick in the 55th minute. However, Yuya Yamagishi's kick was blocked by Shusaku Nishikawa and he failed to score a third goal. Urawa then launched a counter-attack. In the 67th minute, Takahiro Akimoto scored a powerful shot to pull within one point. 

This seemed to turn the tide in Urawa's favor, but Fukuoka showed their determination to win and remained focused right to the end. Their physical defense kept them from conceding an additional goal, even in the eight minutes of additional time. Fukuoka held on to their one-goal lead to win the title for the first time in the club's history.

2023 Jリーグルヴァンカップ

北 愛子












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